The largest shareholder of the Agricultural Development Bank (adb), Belstar Capital is working to sell its shares in the bank.
This is subject to securing regulatory approval from the Central Bank and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
JoyBusiness understands an agreement between Belstar and Unibank in principle has been reached to carry out the transaction; that is pulling out its investments in ADB.
Although there is no official reason yet, persons with information about the transaction say the move has been influenced by government’s decision to merge adb and the National Investment Bank (NIB).
It is also being rumoured that Belstar Capital is rather being forced out, because of questions surrounding its takeover of adb.
Proposed share sale
Information available to JoyBusiness indicates that Belstar has given existing shareholders, especially government the “first right of refusal,” before it considers other investors in selling its shares in adb.
Sources say other banks are also racing to take up Belstar’s stake if government does not take up that “right”.
Where is Belstar Capital going?
JoyBusiness is reliably informed that Belstar is planning to take the money realised from the share sale and invest it into Unibank.
According to a source, Belstar Capital could invest at least ¢600 million into Unibank, but this would not make Belstar the new owner of Unibank, but the owner of a significant stake in the bank.
The capital injection would help increase its minimum capital requirement to at least ¢500 million.
This would help Unibank join the league of banks that have already met the new Bank of Ghana (BoG) capital levels of ¢400 million, even before the December 2018 deadline.
Could this transaction face any challenge?
The fear of some industry watchers, especially strategic investors, is that Belstar Capital can sell its shares to and whether the approval would come on time to aid the movement of this capital into Unibank.
Would Belstar movement pave way for merging of adb and NIB?
It appears one of the major stumbling blocks in putting these two banks together is getting Belstar’s blessing to merge adb with NIB. If Belstar finally moves out, then government may be able to go ahead with this plan.
Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, recently confirmed to JoyBusiness that government is working to merge with the two banks to create National Development Bank.
Shareholding structure of ADB
At the time that adb held its first Extraordinary General Meeting in June this year, this was the shareholding structure of the bank.
Belstar Capital – 34.3 percent
Government – 32.3 percent
Starmount Development Company – 11 percent
Bank of Ghana – 9.5 percent
EDC now (Ecobank Capital) -6 percent
However, JoyBusiness has learned that Belstar’s stake may have gone up further after listing adb shares on the Ghana Stock Exchange.